New release, and Tangent Online recommended reading for 2017!

It’s release daaaay! What a way to start the new year off right, yeah? My new novella, Thorn and Thimble, is a dark fairy tale set in the cold of the Russian taiga. So if that’s your kind of thing, maybe think about giving it a read? The cover’s pretty snazzy, too, if I say so myself:

Thorn and Thimble final

Raised on her father’s terrifyingly spellbinding fairy tales, Robin Weatherwax knows evil is a force of nature…

Even so, on a quest for a relationship with her mother—a botany professor—Robin puts aside her fear of nature to travel in the Russian taiga. The only remaining obstacles are the grad students taking up her mother’s attention.

But as the research team forays into the woods, a chilling voice whispers to Robin of a curse and a thirst for her blood. Robin will have to face the evil that calls to her or risk losing her chance at everything she’s ever longed for.

Sounds exciting, right? You can grab it at these places for only $2.99:

Amazon, Kobo, Books2Read

Something that makes me go ‘squeeee’ is the fact that my short story “Killing Spree”, published all the way back in January 2017 in Fiction River: Tavern Tales, has been included on Tangent Online’s 2017 Recommended Reading List! They rank stories with either no stars or with one, two, or three stars. “Killing Spree” has made the cut with one shiny star to its name, which I think main character Spriegan would be just fine with. As for me, I’m absolutely giddy! (I’ll note my dad doesn’t have one on this list, so I’ll get to rib him on that for a little while)

While I certainly haven’t read even close to everything on this list, I’ve read some of them, and can say that I find myself in good company. If you’re looking for something to read, you wouldn’t be amiss to start your search here!

I’ve been doing a lot of reading the last month as I prepare for a fantasy writing class coming up in April, so I’ll leave you with a recommendation of my own. If you’ve never read The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, you might consider giving it a read! I found it charming and light-hearted, and yet edge-of-my-seat tense for the second half.

Also, if you’ve never seen the version of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart, you should definitely check it out. Creepy, unnerving, and yet doing its own thing, I really enjoyed the way the cinematic version walked the line between cinema and stage theater. Plus, of course, Patrick Stewart is fantastic. Give it a watch, you won’t be disappointed.

Happy New Year, everyone!


I Was Only Pretending to Procrastinate

I just finished my first real read-through of the first draft of book three of The Songbird River Chronicles, The Fount of Magic.

I finished writing that draft… um… a while ago.

And while I did, in fact, beat myself up over the fact that I was spending all of this in-between time NOT editing it and preparing it for publication, I find now that the distance has actually been extremely helpful.

First off, I had a chance to forget some of the story. Oh, I remembered the big overarching skeleton of the piece, and lots of chunks of the flesh, but some of the details had escaped me. I actually went back and reread books 1 and 2 as well to get back into the story.

Second though, and more importantly, I’ve had time to grow as a writer between finishing the draft and now. I’ve been reading a whole lot for pleasure lately, as well, something I haven’t had time to do since I was in high school, really. I’ve been critical of the books I’m reading, picking out things that I think work really well and things I can see don’t work at all, and I’m analyzing them as best I can. It’s been really fun going through my own work now and using those skills to see how I can make the second draft actually work.

That isn’t to say that the draft is broken, currently. It works, the story is there, and it’s pretty decent. Pretty damn good in lots of places, to be honest. It’s just the bits in between those “pretty damn good” chunks that need some reworking.

And that’s where this whole distance thing is coming into play. Because, when I first finished the draft and immediately turned around and read through the thing again to attempt some clean up, I floundered. I knew it needed something, but I just could not tell what it was. I knew particular chapters flagged, but for the life of me, I had no idea how to make them crackle the way the other chapters did.

So I got frustrated, and I put the draft aside.

And now, many, many months later, when I opened it up and read through chapter one (which needs some not insubstantial work, though is by no means the worst offender) the answer immediately snapped into place in my head. The same thing happened when I got to my other trouble chapters.

Two chapters will need heavy rewriting, and I mean total scrapping, tossing out the window, light those suckers on fire because just GAG me already they sucked. Most of the rest need some light reworking to adjust the information flow, or to adjust for the major changes in those rewrite chapters.

But there are some that I’m just not touching, because as far as I can tell, they are in exactly the form they need to be. Those are the chapters that I was reading along, and suddenly realized I’d forgotten I was editing them. They’d sucked me in, and I’d just been going on a ride with them.

Like I was reading a real book! An entertaining one! With plot and characterization and pacing that worked properly!

And when that happened, I stepped aside, patted myself on the back (because, as writers, we don’t acknowledge our own good work often enough. I say, if your own work carries you away like that, let it! That’s the whole point of writing, after all!), and made myself reread the section more critically.

So, long story short, I no longer feel so guilty about the procrastination. Well, I do, but I feel it worked out for the better this way.

I’ve got the house to myself this Saturday. I’m planning to make some decent headway into this thing, now that I’ve got my edits outlined. Maybe I can even wrap it up before we leave for our Germany vacation in a week?

So long as I don’t start procrastinating again…